Best Thriller Movies of All Time

Who doesn’t like thrilling, pulse-pounding experience when watching a movie? When a movie keeps you on the edge the whole time and leaves you in suspense after each scene, you know you won’t regret time spent watching it. This is why we decided to collect the best thriller movies of all time in one place and enable you to quickly choose the best movie to watch. Whether you like classics or new movies, our list will certainly please you.

30. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the movie follows a young troubled and isolated boy who is able to see and speak to the dead. He is helped by a child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe, played by Bruce Willis, who tries to help him while battling his own demons. The movie was well received by the critics and praised for the acting. And with one of the best plot twists in the cinematography ever, this movie will surely leave you breathless.

29. Shutter Island (2010)

The movie follows U.S. Marshal Edward Daniels, who investigates the disappearance of a murderer on Shutter, island with a hospital for criminally insane. In the process, he gets confused with his role on the island and starts doubting everything, from his memory, partner to his own sanity. It truly is a must-see for every thriller fan out there.

28. Prisoners (2013)

Denis Villeneuve is surely one of the best directors out there, and he confirmed it with his 2013 thriller called Prisoners. The story follows the abduction of two young girls in Pennsylvania, followed by a short search by the police. After a young suspect is arrested and released shortly after, the father of one of the missing girls embarks on his own mission to find the girls and kidnaps the suspect to interrogate him. The cast includes Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, which helped Villeneuve direct his first English-language movie.

27. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, this movie is dubbed as their best work. It features Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem, as they play cat and mouse game after a drug deal goes bad. Violence and mayhem ensue after they meet each other in the desert landscape of west Texas during the 1980s.

26. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This movie set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland and follows a drifter named Max (Tom Hardy) who joins forces with a woman named Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, as they try to fight against one cult leader. They are helped by a group of female prisoners as they try to survive in the waterless wasteland and bring tyranny to an end.

25. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

One of Quentin Tarantino’s masterpieces, the movie follows Uma Thurman as The Bride. After she and her unborn child survive an assassination attempt, she vows to take revenge on a group of assassins and their leader named Bill, played by David Carradine. The journey of bloodshed, mayhem, and destruction, the signature style of Tarantino’s movies, leads her to Japan where she gets ready for the final showdown.

24. Jurassic Park (1993)

The story of the movie is set on an island near Costa Rica, where billionaire philanthropist John Hammond, along with his team of genetic scientist, created a wildlife park of dinosaurs. During one of the preview tours, the park suffers from a catastrophic shutdown and the cloned dinosaurs are let loose. In the tour trapped on the island are Grant and Ellie, played by Sam Neill and Laura Dern, alongside with Hammond’s grandchildren, trying to find a way out of the perilous island.

23. Gone Girl (2014)

The thriller follows the story of Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, as he becomes the center of media and police attention after his wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, mysteriously goes missing. Directed by David Fincher, the movie received positive critics and offers a good plot twist, something that is wanted of a good thriller. Ben Affleck delivered the role perfectly, and if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do not waste your time anymore.

22. V For Vendetta (2005)

In dystopian future, Britain finds itself under tyranny. The government rule is challenged by a masked freedom fighter going by the alias of V who gets an unexpected help from a young woman.

21. Heat (1995)

Heat has legendary actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starring as a troubled pair on different sides of the law but with similar personal and professional problems. After a professional bank heist, robbers unknowingly leave a clue which gets the attention of the police and turns into a cat-and-mouse game.

20. Die Hard (1988)

The first installment in the Die Hard series, the movie follows John McClane, a police detective who finds himself in a Christmas chaos when his wife and several others are taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber. This one is a classic with Bruce Willis in tank top saving the world from bad guys.

19. Blade Runner (1982)

Set in dystopian future, the movie follows Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a Blade Runner in pursuit of four replicants who stole a spaceship and headed to Earth in order to find their original creator. This action-packed thriller received a sequel last year with better visuals and CGI, but the original still remains a must-see.

18. Vertigo (1958)

A throwback to 1950s, the era of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece thrillers, Vertigo follows a retired San Francisco detective who developed acrophobia and vertigo after an incident on the line of duty. He is hired as a private detective to investigates strange behavior of his friend’s wife. In the process, he develops a dangerous obsession with the woman. Hitchcock never failed to deliver, and any fan of a good and intelligent thriller should see this movie.

17. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

A masterpiece from the 1990s, this movie has it all. Action, acting, dialogues, bloodshed, everything needed for a brilliant thriller. After a jewelry heist goes wrong, the surviving criminals retreat to their hideout and suspect that there is a police informant among them. What ensues afterward is a classic Tarantino movie stamp, with lots of dialogue and absolute chaos. Surely one of his best movies to date, it features Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Chris Penn and Steve Buscemi.

16. L.A. Confidential (1997)

This movie is one of the best depiction of Los Angeles during the 1950s. It follows three police officers with three very different traits, but with the same goal in mind, which is finding the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime. The crime story is intertwined with dazzling lights and glamour of Hollywood, portraying how similar these two scenes are. An excellent thriller starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger.

15. The Lives Of Others (2006)

It is 1984, East Berlin. The East German secret police, called Stasi, and an agent of the secret police are conducting surveillance of a writer and his lover. The more he listens, the more he is absorbed into their lives, becoming almost an obsession. A nice thriller from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who may be unknown to the wider audience. Still, we recommend the movie, so be sure to check it out.

14. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan brings another Batman to the big screens with Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, and Anne Hathaway. It follows the story of Batman, who returned from exile and with the help of Catwoman, tries to save Gotham City from total chaos and annihilation caused by Bane, a guerilla terrorist.

13. Oldboy (2003)

This one is a South Korean masterpiece and the second installment of The Vengeance Trilogy. It follows Oh Dae-su, a man imprisoned in a cell which resembles a hotel room. He’s been held captive for 15 years without knowing the identity of his captors or the reason he was kidnapped. When he is finally released, he embarks on a mission to find his captors in 5 days. It is a simply thrilling experience to watch this movie.

12. Aliens (1986)

The second installment of the Aliens franchise, it follows Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, as she is being rescued after 57 years of hypersleep. The moon has been colonized, but the link with colonization ship has been lost. Ripley, alongside the space marines, are sent to investigate. No one believes Ripley’s story, but they have brought impressive and devastating firepower. Will that be enough or will the terror continue?

11. The Prestige (2006)

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie follows the story of Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, two rival illusionists in London at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century. Obsessed with creating the ultimate illusion, the two embark on the merciless rivalry that will end with tragic consequences. Movie stars Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as the leads featuring legendary musician David Bowie as Nikola Tesla as well.

10. The Departed (2006)

Martin Scorsese is known for his directing prowess and he showed it with this Oscar-winning movie. The Departed features some of the best Hollywood names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Ray Winstone. The story follows Colin Sullivan, a mobster from Frank Costello’s Irish gang, as he infiltrates the police department in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Billy Costigan is a cop that infiltrates Costello’s gang. When the word is out that there is a mole on both sides, they are forced to work against time in order to find the other mole and save their own lives.

9. Rear Window (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock has made a name for himself with his famous thrillers. Rear Window is without a doubt in his top 3 movies of all time. The story follows a photographer in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbors through an apartment window. Soon after, he becomes convinced that one of them has committed murder and gets ever more involved in their lives. The movie features an intelligent script and an excellent performance from James Stewart and Grace Kelly. A definite watch if you are a fan of Hitchcock-style thrillers.

8. Psycho (1960)

Is there a more popular thriller movie than Psycho? We highly doubt it, as this is a classical masterpiece directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Norman Bates is one of, if not, the most famous movie characters of all times. The movie follows a Phoenix secretary as she embezzles $40.000 and is on the run ever since. She stops to check into a motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. You can all guess who that young man is. The plot will eventually lead to the most famous and iconic shower scene ever.

7. Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan gained international recognition with this movie. It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano, and follows the story of a man named Leonard. After a tragic attack on him and his wife, he suffered from anterograde amnesia and cannot form new memories, while also suffering from short-term memory loss approximately every five minutes. He must find the person who attacked him and his wife, using Polaroid photographs to track information he cannot remember. A brilliant movie is presented in two sequences which meet at the end of the film, forming an intelligent and cohesive narrative.

6. The Usual Suspects (1995)

A seemingly random police lineup led to a terrifying gun battle with only two survivors. One of them tells the tale of how 5 criminals met and the twisty events that led to bloodshed on a ship docked in Port of Los Angeles. The movie stars Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Pollak. The movie was praised by critics and has one of the greatest screenplays of all time.

5. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

A rookie FBI agent played by Jodie Foster is on the trail of a serial killer. But in order to track him down, she will have to match wits with one of the darkest criminal minds of all time, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. She has to resist Dr. Hannibal’s manipulative methods and proceed with catching the serial killer on the loose. This is a fantastic thriller with Anthony Hopkins delivering his role masterfully. No matter how many times you see this movie, it will always fascinate and mesmerize you.

4. Se7en (1995)

The story follows Detective William Summerset, played by Morgan Freeman, as he is looking his way out of the police work. He has few days left to retirement, when rookie Detective David Mills, played by Brad Pitt, arrives at the scene and is looking for recognition. The two embark on a mission to find a gruesome serial killer who uses seven deadly sins as his motives for murder. A David Fincher movie that was widely received as one of the best thrillers ever made.

3. Leon: The Professional (1994)

Luc Besson has many movies to his name, but Leon: The Professional is one of his best work. In the art of the kill, Leon is a true master. He never missed a target, he never failed to deliver and he never had any reason to care about anyone. That all changed when a young girl named Matilda seeks his refuge when her family is brutally murdered. The two form an unusual relationship and Mathilda becomes his student, seeking to learn all tools of the assassin’s trade. Jean Reno in one of his finest roles.

2. Inception (2010)

Directed by Christopher Nolan, movie stars the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy and Michael Cane. The plot follows Dominick Cobb, a thief doing industrial espionage using experimental military technology that allows him to enter the minds of his targets. After he was offered to get his old life back, he accepts the seemingly impossible task of planting an idea into the mind of his target. One of the best movies in the 21st century and a must watch!

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

Christopher Nolan did numerous movies but is probably the most famous for his Batman series. Starring Christian Bale as Batman, this hero needs to fight a menace from his past, Joker, who wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham. Batman must deal with all tests, physical and mental, thrown at him in order to bring Joker down. Heath Ledger played a masterful role of the main villain and he posthumously got an Oscar for it.

Final thoughts on Best Thriller Movies of All Time

We hope that you have enjoyed this thrilling journey through our lists. Don’t forget to let us know in the comment section below if you liked our list or if you believe we’ve missed a spine-tingling, nail-biting and sweat-inducing thriller that should definitely be here.

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